Is Your Inbox Out of Control?

overwhelmedIs your inbox out of control? Do you spend way too much time searching in your archives for old email? I did too until I discovered this simple but practical method for archiving email that has revolutionized my workday.

The average office worker spends 2.6 hours per day on email (tweet this) and it feels like I spend more than that, but I am convinced I am more efficient than I used to be.

Although this system is currently working for me, I am always looking for new ideas. What email organization tips have you found helpful? Please comment below.



Photo credit: foshydog / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

13 thoughts on “Is Your Inbox Out of Control?

  1. Great ideas! I guess different things work for different people: perhaps the reason I chose a slightly different method might be because I help with someone else’s calendar, and because email is the means by which I do most of my job. I tend to keep things in my inbox until I’ve responded and only move them once. Either I delete the email (since I still have it in my sent items) or I’ll archive them into category folders vs people folders. For example, all emails, from various people pertaining to these things go in these folders:

    Board Meetings
    College Plus Webinar
    – Leadership interviews
    Contracts 2013
    Contracts 2014
    Contracts 2015
    Contracts tentative
    – Cultivate workshops
    – Engage Conferences
    – Homeschool conventions
    – Media interviews
    – Oxford trips
    – Summit Adult conference (spring)
    – Youth Pastor
    Flight receipts
    Receipts for mastercard bill
    Summit summer conferences
    – CA
    – CO
    – TN
    UTT project

    • Yeah, I think you’re right that there is no “one” way to do email. I am convinced that not only do different things work for different people but also that different things work for different people in different seasons of life (how confusing is that? :)).

      I used to organize by category too and that worked for a long time, but with my current responsibilities, organizing by people has been a HUGE efficiency boost.

      Awesome feedback, thanks for taking time to comment.

  2. Thanks sharing for these ideas! I’m tucking them away for future reference.
    For now, I do like Gmail and am always finding new ways to take advantage of its features.
    I used to spend a lot of time working with folders, until I realized that *for me* Gmail’s search function was a much more efficient way to retrieve exactly what I was looking for.
    I also love being able to star any emails that I need to take action on later. If I can complete that action in two minutes or less, I go ahead and do so (Thanks, David Allen).

    • Yeah, there are a lot of people that really love Gmail. I think its kind of a Ford/Chevy debate. :) I say use whatever gets the job done. For me Gmail is like coffee, I’ve tried it several times but I just can’t acquire the taste :).

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your ideas, I like your starring idea.

  3. Oh, man. I LOVE the idea of sorting emails into folders so you can burn through things on the same topic all at once. That’s the biggest thing for me – with all the things I need to proofread or follow-up on, etc., my inbox just gets overloaded. I will definitely be adding a few folders and if I have a major epiphany after I’ve done that and started playing around with some different things, I will be sure to let you know!

    Thanks, Ryan!

  4. Very interesting to think of how much a company could save as it trains team members on something as “mundane” as email organization. These tips have saved me a ton of work with students I work with. Each time I get on the phone with a client I open their email folder so I can keep an eye on their history during the conversation. A huge help!

    • You raise a good point, just to extrapolate that for a minute: if a company of 100 employees can save 15 mins/per employee a day, that is 25 man hours per day or 125 per week. Big stuff!

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